Steve Sturgess

New Volvo VNX is Tough, Trendy and Suave

According to Diesel News US Correspondent the new Volvo VNX is tough, trendy and suave. In North America, Volvo has completely refreshed its range in the last year. The third tranche of the introductions is the new VNX model. Diesel’s US Correspondent, Steve Sturgess, was there for its unveiling. Read more

Testing Electric Trucks into the Ports 

Testing Electric Trucks into the Ports


In California, Siemens are testing electric trucks into the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Electrified overhead power cables provide the power to trucks delivering to the ports.


Testing Electric Trucks into the Ports 


The South Alameda Street demonstration is a one-mile ‘test track’, with the left lane coned off in both directions in Carson, California. A small construction-site mobile office sits approximately at the mid-point, under the Sepulveda Boulevard overpass. Here, another very short section of catenary allows for experimentation on or service of the installations on the trucks.


All three trucks can operate quite satisfactorily on electrical power supplied via the catenary power lines through the pantograph contact arms mounted above and behind the cabs. Both the catenary infrastructure and the on-board electronics and power controls to reduce the catenary voltage of 500–750 volts DC down to the 350 volts required to drive the trucks are owned and installed by the German Siemens.


Testing Electric Trucks into the Ports 


The Vehicles


There are three prime movers performing the testing in the catenary demonstration unveiled at the end of 2017. Two are Navistar ProStar ‘mules’ prepared by California-based TransPower.

These two trucks were purchased, then the engines and transmissions removed and the TransPower-developed electric powertrain installed. One of the ProStars is pure plug-in battery electric, the other has a CNG Ford 3.7-litre V6-powered generation set across the frame rails behind the cab that provides range extension by continually topping up the battery power.


The battery-only electric has a range of 64km, the range-extended truck offers the same mileage when running on batteries alone, but can operate for several hundred miles with the range extender in operation. The actual range varies with the CNG tank size: bigger tanks mean more kilometres.


The third prime mover is a Mack Pinnacle hybrid provided by Mack. While not yet commercially available, Mack has been developing a hybrid powertrain for heavy distribution trucks that operate on short hauls with traffic congestion. As hybrids, they have an electric traction motor to assist in accelerating the vehicle, which also functions as a generator in the regenerative braking mode to return electric power back to the on-board batteries. The 161hp peak, 94hp continuous (120–70kW) motor is sufficient to power the truck when the diesel engine is shut down, allowing for zero emissions when the truck is running under the catenary power line.


According to Mack, the prototype used in the demonstrations is a conventional Pinnacle DayCab model equipped with a proprietary and fully integrated plug-in hybrid electric driveline, offering significant fuel savings and emissions-reduction benefits even when the truck is operating outside of the eHighway.


Testing Electric Trucks into the Ports 


Visual Pollution


While the technology demonstration goes forward, there’s opportunity for public comment. It will be interesting to gauge opinion on the visual pollution additional wires and poles introduced at street level. South Alameda Street is one of the least attractive routes imaginable, and the catenary does nothing to improve that.


But it doesn’t appear to impact the enthusiasm among the funding partners.

“This project will help us evaluate the feasibility of a zero-emission cargo-movement system using overhead catenary wires,” said Wayne Nastri, Executive Officer of South Coast Air Quality Management District. “This demonstration could lead to the deployment of e-highway systems that will reduce pollution and benefit public health for residents living near the ports.”





The New Sprinter

From Mercedes-Benz the new Sprinter has been released, but it didn’t launch as just a van, it is planned to be more of a transportation solution. Part of the package will be an extensive telematics offering under the Mercedes PRO brand that will allow for highly automated dispatch, optimised routing, traffic information and built-in diagnostics that will issue service and repair notifications.


The New Sprinter


This will help fill what Mercedes-Benz Vans chief Volker Mornhinweg says will be a shortage of vans for the ever-increasing last-mile deliveries, and returns, which are part and parcel of internet retail.


Mercedes Benz’s Innovation Campus showcase of the Sprinter revealed some of the features of the third-generation Sprinter that will offer ultimate uptime as one of its differentiating features over other Euro-style ‘white’ vans.


Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler predicts vans will become increasingly necessary as the world’s population gravitates to megacities with more than 10 million inhabitants, and as retail shifts to e-commerce, fragmenting loads while increasing consumer demand for ever shorter delivery times. All of this calls for the integration of vehicle design and delivery systems, said presenters at the Innovation Campus event.


The New Sprinter


“The Sprinter is the flagship of our commercial fleet and embodies our approach toward an integrated system solution,” said Mornhinweg. “Comprehensive industry-specific know-how, a vehicle that is adaptable to different transport requirements, and innovative networking services add up to a fully integrated product offering.”


Worldwide, the 2019 Sprinter will have three wheelbases, four body lengths, three roof heights and four dashboard configurations, with the premium level offering up to three top-of-dash lidded storage bins – an industry first.


Mercedes-Benz will also offer different drivetrains in the multiple markets where the vans are sold. Today’s rear-wheel drive will continue to be the mainstream in the US, along with the four-wheel drive that is currently in the Sprinter’s mix. The new model will, however, also be available with front-wheel drive in some markets to lower the load floor, boosting interior volume and easing the driver’s loading of cargo.


The New Sprinter


Mercedes PRO telematics will provide with fleets a cloud-based vehicle management tool, with the telematics data served to a mobile app. Additionally, Mercedes PRO is a Linux-based vehicle platform that’s designed to encourage third-party vehicle apps to further enhance the van-as-a-transportation solution.


The Mercedes PRO is available already used on Sprinters in Germany, but with the new van and minibuses, customers will be able to use these services for their fleets. When inserted into a dedicated slot in the vehicle, the adapter establishes a connection between the vehicle, driver and fleet manager. The web-based service links the fleet manager with all vehicles and drivers in the fleet via the Vehicle Management Tool.


The Mercedes PRO adapter makes it possible to manage orders online, as well as check vehicle information – such as location, fuel level or maintenance intervals – almost in real time, said Mercedes-Benz.





Electric Trucks are Becoming a Reality

Electric Trucks are Becoming a Reality

Electric trucks are becoming a reality, in California, with electrified overhead power cables providing the power to trucks delivering to the ports. Diesel News’ US Correspondent, Steve Sturgess, reports.


Electric Trucks are Becoming a Reality


German industrial giant Siemens and California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) are conducting a one-mile, zero-emission eHighway demonstration in Carson, California, near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Three heavy-duty trucks hauling freight are running along the stretch of roadway that uses Siemens technology to electrify select highway lanes via an overhead catenary system.


According to SCAQMD, heavy-duty trucks are the number-one source of smog-forming emissions in Southern California. Developing a zero- or near-zero goods-movement system in and out of the ports will reduce smog formation and toxic and greenhouse gas emissions in communities around the ports, which are some of the areas most heavily impacted by air pollution.


“Every day, Americans rely on the goods and services that are carried by road freight,” said Andreas Thon, head of Turnkey Projects & Electrification, Siemens North America, in the press release issued by the air quality district. “But with that transportation predicted to double by 2050, only one-third of this additional travel can be handled by trains, despite expansion of rail infrastructure. Experts expect global CO2 emissions from road freight traffic to more than double by 2050.


Electric Trucks are Becoming a Reality


“This electrified truck system, what we call eHighway, can modernise the existing infrastructure using the latest technology to accommodate the growing amount of [truck] freight travel, reduce harmful emissions, and keep these ports – one of our country’s major economic drivers – competitive.”


Siemens noted it launched the world’s first eHighway system on public roads in June 2016, using a two-kilometre section of a highway north of Stockholm, Sweden. Three field trials of the eHighway technology on German highways are planned to take place in 2019.




The South Alameda Street demonstration is a one-mile ‘test track’, with the left lane coned off in both directions in Carson, California. A small construction-site mobile office sits approximately at the mid-point, under the Sepulveda Boulevard overpass. Here, another very short section of catenary allows for experimentation on or service of the installations on the trucks.


The electrical infrastructure is called a catenary because the conductor wires hang from and are clipped to a ‘messenger’ wire. This delivers the electrical power to the conductor wire, which has to be at a constant height above the roadway. The messenger wire is anchored at the many supporting structures along the route and hangs in a catenary, the arc that any line or chain describes when it is hung from its ends. A chain to prevent entry to a gateway, for instance, hangs in a catenary arc, which is a quite different arc than a segment of a circle.


Electric Trucks are Becoming a Reality


All three trucks can operate quite satisfactorily on electrical power supplied via the catenary power lines through the pantograph contact arms mounted behind the cabs. Both the catenary infrastructure and the on-board electronics and power controls to reduce the catenary voltage of 500–750 volts DC down to the 350 volts required to drive the trucks are owned and installed by the German Siemens.


The electrical installation took about six months to complete, according to Kay Rasch, Technical Project Manager for Siemens’ Mobility Division and on-site engineer. He added that the infrastructure part of the demonstration accounted for about 25–30 per cent of the total $17 million investment. “It could have been more, but to keep within budget we had to eliminate some of the features,” he said.


Electric Trucks are Becoming a Reality


Where this demonstration is unique in the US in providing power to transport trucks, the overhead supplied power is fairly common in people-moving trams, trolleybuses and railways. Railways and trams have the advantage of steel wheels on steel rails providing one of the power lines. Since trucks and trolleybuses have rubber tires on roads, this option is not available and there have to be two overhead wires and two pantographs on the trucks to complete the electrical circuit.


Since the pantographs can be raised and lowered from the dashboard touchscreen, in a more lengthy demonstration or even a practical application, a truck could disconnect from the overhead power to pass another catenary user, reverting to the lane and reconnecting to the overhead power again when the manoeuvre is complete. In this way, a catenary installation could serve other users such as trolleybus or electric transit bus lines, refuse trucks, school buses, even intercity coaches, if such an installation were to run from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, for example.


Preventative Maintenance is Vital

Latest in Engine Technology

In a tour of the Columbus Technical Centre, Diesel News’ US correspondent, Steve Sturgess saw Cummins present the latest in engine technology, saying that for many markets diesel engines will be the best solution for decades to come. The latest products are claimed to be the most commonly used power on American roads today. New versions of the X15 and lightweight X12 engines were introduced in early 2017 and are engineered for optimal performance and power, while offering class-leading fuel economy from advanced air handling and fuel system controls.

Read more

Inside the Tesla Truck

As accurate as they proved to be, those sneak preview photos didn’t reveal inside the Tesla truck. The interior of the Tesla Semi, in fact, features a centrally located driver’s seat behind the enormous curved windshield. The side glass flows smoothly around the surprisingly thin A pillars, so the driver’s view forward is unparalleled.


Inside the Tesla Truck


The steering position, with a small, car-like wheel on the model at the walk-around intro, was flanked on either side by flat panel displays from the Model 3 that are customisable, as in the Tesla cars. In fact, this not only represents a major advance in driver controls, it is actually cheaper for Tesla to integrate the same flat-panel technology it uses in the cars instead of creating a regular dashboard.


On the walk-around day-cab truck, there was a small passenger seat against the back wall for a riding helper or driver instructor. For anyone who attended the launch of the Nikola, there are obvious similarities to the Nikola launched last year. But there are significant differences, too. The 6×4 walk-around truck featured a drive tandem, each conventionally air-sprung drive axle featuring a power pack from a Tesla Model 3 on the nose of the axle, with separate motors for each wheel.


The air-ride is conventional heavy duty, with regular looking frame rails. The Tesla guide said the battery pack resides beneath the cab, and a conventional fifth wheel allows for trailer coupling. The cab looks like a sleeper from the outside but that’s because the cab sides extend well back from the back of the cab.


Inside the Tesla Truck


The industry has not been slow to respond, with several having expressing their interest immediately – though the trucks are not expected to go into production until 2019. Truckload carrier J.B. Hunt was among the first fleets to publicly reveal it had reserved the truck – or several, in fact.


“Reserving Tesla trucks marks an important step in our efforts to implement industry-changing technology,” said John Roberts, President and CEO at J.B. Hunt. “We believe electric trucks will be most beneficial on local and dray routes, and we look forward to utilising this new, sustainable technology.”


Major US grocery chain Meijer has placed down US$5,000 ($6,560) to reserve four models – though reservations are reported to be $5,000 per truck, and mega retailer Walmart has revealed it is considering how the Tesla Semi will fit in its distribution plans.


Inside the Tesla Truck


“We have a long history of testing new technology, including alternative-fuel trucks, and we are excited to be among the first to pilot this new heavy-duty electric vehicle,” Wal-Mart spokesman Kory Lundberg said in an email. “We believe we can learn how this technology performs within our supply chain, as well as how it could help us meet some of our long-term sustainability goals, such as lowering emissions.”


Unusual for a car company, the design team appears to understand the needs of the commercial user of the Tesla product. If it delivers the operational savings promised, early customers like Hunt and Walmart will be delighted. Technicians too, because the electric drivetrain is so much less complicated than the emissions-saddled diesel powertrain. But drivers? They’ll hate it if they prefer ‘real’ trucks. But millennials – and that’s where the new drivers are to come from – will love them.



Tesla Semi Breaks Cover

In a cloud of hype, the long-promised Tesla semi breaks cover and Diesel News US Correspondent, Steve Sturgess, got to see and feel the truck first hand.


Tesla Semi Breaks Cover


Tesla unveiled its heavy duty prime mover, its ‘Semi’ at a reveal party attended by nearly 1,200 of the world’s press, Tesla officers, investors and employees, held in November in a hangar at Jet Centre in Hawthorne, California. It confirmed what the spy and tease photos had already suggested – a cab-forward, heavy-duty truck with exceptionally smooth lines promising dramatically improved fuel economy and vehicle performance.


CEO and Product Architect of Tesla, Elon Musk, stepped down from the cab of the much-heralded truck as it rolled in and went on to highlight its features before a sea of fans. But the message was clear and commercial, the Semi is a thoroughly practical, high performing and an economical product that can do to diesel power what Tesla’s Model S, Model X and Model 3 have done to petrol engine cars, hastening the demise of the internal combustion engine in commercial transportation.


The economic analysis that passed over the heads of much of the doting audience was compelling. Musk said that total cost of ownership would be US$1.25 ($1.60) per mile, comparing favourably to today’s diesel truck cost of US$1.51 ($1.98). He did not specify the trade cycle or the structure of the financing but did say that Tesla is aiming for zero breakdowns in a million miles of operation.


The announcement of the promised range – 500 miles (800km) – brought a rousing cheer from supporters. Significantly, Musk said the Semi could pick up an 80 per cent charge in just 30 minutes, which would add another 400 miles. Since a driver must take a meal break under hours-of-service rules in the US, that gives the truck a 900-mile daily range, providing a fast charger is available at the rest point.


Tesla Semi Breaks Cover


Despite the enthusiasm at the launch, the troubled reliability of Tesla’s Model S and the introduction issues of the Model 3, on which much of the powertrain of the Semi is based, has been a point of contention among critics. Against this, Musk recognised that reliability and durability were prime requirements for a commercial vehicle and promised million-mile reliability for the Semi when it is introduced in 2019.


In his presentation, Musk said that the range was enabled by exceptional aerodynamics, with the ‘Semi’ scoring a 0.36CD – better even than the Bugatti Chiron’s 0.38. He also noted the cab side extenders that actively fill the gap between prime mover and trailer also contribute to the overall low drag. Worth noting – the prime mover at launch looked like a sleeper because of these long side extenders.


Tesla Semi Breaks Cover


Access to the cab is to the rear of the driving position, with three steps tapering in toward the centre of the cab and a ‘suicide’ door. The floor is stepped, presumably to allow for the batteries beneath. There’s a step up to the driving position. The side glass forward of the door is hinged down its leading edge and opens for ventilation or to pass documents down to gate guards or enforcement officers. The door glass and opposite side-fixed glass do not open, eliminating the need for any lift mechanism that could fail in use. The door and cab sides have generous storage for driver necessities.


Interestingly, the door hinges are hidden and the door handle (from the Model 3) recessed, so the sides are super clean. Of the two models on display, one featured conventional mirrors, the other a visibility system, with cameras mounted high toward the back of cab. There was a single pantograph-arm windshield wiper. In another reference to the working character of the new introduction, Musk joked that the glass, “can withstand a nuclear explosion – or the customer gets a free refund,” while emphasising the point that the truck is optimised for minimum downtime, citing the out-of-service implications of a broken windshield.



Volvo Launch a Conventional

Volvo Launch a Conventional

In the US, Volvo launch a conventional model and for Diesel News’ US correspondent it was a chance to get some road test miles in a VNL 740 and the flagship VNL 860 – both with the new Volvo 13-litre turbocompound engine and the newly released, extra-tall final gear ratio of 2.47 to one. With the overdrive iShift automated transmission, this equates to extreme downspeeding, with the ability to cruise between 1,000 and 1,100rpm at 60 to 65mph (100 km/h), right on the fuel curve’s sweetest spot.


Volvo Launch a Conventional


There was no opportunity to verify fuel economy, but Volvo says that this setup will gain 6.5 per cent fuel savings over the 2014 13-litre VNL, already one of the more frugal heavy trucks.


The test route gave us a combination of interstate, divided state highways and two-lane rural roads over a nearly 70-mile loop. Trailers – a flatbed with concrete blocks on the 740 and a van on the 860 – were loaded, with the trucks grossed out at around 77,000 pounds (36 tonnes) – a real test to the new turbocompound engines.


The Trucks


The number designation indicates roof height and sleeper size – the 740 dictates a mid-roof (40) and 70-inch sleeper; the 860 has a nominal 80-inch sleeper with the taller roof (60). Other trucks available but not driven were the VNL 760 (high-roof) and 300 (day cab) models.


The 740 is the equivalent to and replaces the earlier VNL premium mid-roof model. The 860 is Volvo’s new top-of-the-line model. Here, it was in Globetrotter trim, the new premium level that has the most comfortable and attractive interior. It also features external brightwork and has the Globetrotter name emblazoned across the sun visor for drivers to show they have the premium model in the VNL lineup. Because the 860 has the biggest sleeper it also carries the XL designation up there as well.


Volvo Launch a Conventional


Both trucks featured the turbocompound 13-litre engine. This D13 TC is available in two ratings: 425hp with 1,750/1,450 lb ft peak torque, which was the engine powering the 740; and 455hp and 1,850/1,550 lb ft powering the 860. Both make their torque all the way back to 900rpm, which is absolutely amazing, since this is only about 300rpm above idle. However, the tall final drive gear of 2.47 with the overdrive 12th of 0.78-to-one means an incredibly tall 1.92 overall top gear ratio. This is extreme downspeeding, and with tires on these trucks turning around 500 revs per mile, it calculates out to 970 to 1,000 engine rpms at 60mph (96 km/h). So low-speed torque is all important.


The turbocompounding that boosts the low-speed torque uses a two-stage turbocharger where the second stage extracts additional horsepower from the exhaust waste heat and, because it is coupled to the flywheel, adds around 50hp that would otherwise be wasted up the exhaust stack.


On The Road – VNL 740


The new VNLs are so fully featured that before setting out we took time to review the controls, especially those on the steering wheel that control the driver display, cruise control, phone, stereo and a good deal else. In fact, there can be up to 21 buttons on the wheel, all there to keep the driver’s hands where they should be – on the wheel.


Similarly, we reviewed the iShift transmission shifter, a small stick mounted to the seat. There is an option for a dash-mounted button shift selector, which would likely make the access back to the sleeper a little easier – not that it is particularly awkward to get around the stick shifter. The seat-mount shift pattern is maybe counter intuitive, since you shift the lever back to select drive and forward to select reverse. But this is deliberate as it matches an automatic car’s shifter pattern.


There is no ‘park’ position – you shift to neutral when not in drive or reverse. There’s a ‘manual’ position, where the driver can select preferred gears using the shift knob’s side buttons, but you’d be crazy to think you’re smarter than the combined engine/transmission controller.


Volvo Launch a Conventional


From there we picked up ‘drive’, released the brakes and eased out from Volvo’s HQ campus. It was then that the quite astounding new features of the totally revamped Volvo range could be appreciated. But while the driver accommodations, new, more spacious interiors and exterior styling are truly a step ahead, what became quickly apparent in the more recent ride ‘n’ drive is the enhanced steering of the new models. And, yes, the performance of the Volvo 13-litre, turbocompound engine.


In this evolution of the Volvo lineup, a front-axle stabiliser is incorporated into the front suspension. It was not mentioned at the July reveal and was not obvious on the test track. But out on the highway, the benefits of this simple upgrade were quite remarkable. The simple roll-control stabiliser/sway-bar imparts a far better on-centre performance, with the virtual elimination of any wander. There’s no sawing at the wheel to go straight down the road. It also virtually eliminated sensitivity to rough roads and road ruts and provided more precision in turning into a curve that allows a driver to ease through.


The Volvo label for this development is ‘Precision Perfect’ and it’s very appropriate. Also, by restricting chassis roll, the stabiliser bar makes the in-cab ride so much better, with less unrestricted cab excursion through a bumpy or undulating curve. And the turbocompound 425 in the 760 we tried in the morning session pulled like a steam locomotive from the moment we turned out of the staging area.


From the Volvo campus, it’s a short drive to join I-40 eastbound, and Peter Blonde – Volvo’s Senior Product Marketing Manager – Fuel & Transportation Efficiency – and I chatted completely normally in the uncannily quiet interior. Accelerating on the I-40 on ramp using full pedal, the engine would rev to around 1,300–1,400rpms then the iShift would pick up the next gear and drop onto 1,000rpm. It was all very relaxed. Then we entered a relatively challenging climb in the first few minutes that the TC engine completed in 11th gear. As we cruised down the back side of the climb, the transmission shifted into 12th and the rpms dropped back to a shade under 1,000 for our 60mph cruise at this point. And this was the 740 with the lower-rated TC engine. It was all so effortless and, because the rpms were so low, it was with minimal additional noise over the truck at idle.


In fact, at cruise with the adaptive cruise control doing all the work, the only sound was a little wind and road noise from the tires. Yes, there is a mild rumble but the turbocompounding and the aftertreatment all do their part to quieten the engine. The fuel injection is multi-event, so there’s way less diesel knock and the new floor covering does a masterful job of blanketing engine noise.


With the engine and transmission handling the chores, we were able to look out and enjoy the North Carolina scenery, an easy task given the revised hood, which has been lowered and fits tight around the engine’s cooling package. It also slopes off to the sides so the view to the road surface and the three-quarter view to the sides all add up to great forward visibility. The door mirrors are rigid and give an excellent view to the rear with forward wide-angle mirrors on the hood providing an additional safety margin for spotting traffic that may have crept into the blind spots beside the cab.


And should a lane-change be attempted without proper care, a warning buzzer sound and light on the A-pillar flashes to let the driver know there’s a vehicle there.



On The Road – VNL 860


The Globetrotter package includes some bright orange stitching to highlight the otherwise black interior. The seats – there are seven different models available – were the top-of-the-line, and while the drive only lasted about 1.5 hours, they certainly impressed with their comfort and range of adjustment.


The slight extra wheelbase and a far less harsh riding trailer gave the Globetrotter XL 860 a boulevard ride. The same excellent steering and ride characteristics we had noted in the 740 were apparent again – Volvo’s efforts to make the new VNL a driver’s truck have achieved the desired result.


As earlier, we enjoyed the effortless way the TC engine propelled us along despite the unbelievably low rpms, just hanging in there on the grades, topping out some with the tach approaching 900rpm before a downshift was made.


Regrettably, we had to return the 860 to Volvo’s campus when we could easily have driven back to California, enjoying every last minute in quiet, relaxed comfort. The new VNL truly is a driver’s truck, but there’s a whole lot more going on under the surface that should make it popular with fleets for its uptime, safety and a sleek appearance that shouts success.

Truck of the Future?

Is this the truck of the future? Or is it the truck of the past? It is, in fact, a futuristic prototype truck which was built well over ten years ago.


The Colani TUM Supertruck of 2006 was dubbed the ‘Innotruck’ and took the separated driving compartment concept to new levels. A powered aerodynamic lower module contained all the mechanicals of a conventional prime mover including a fifth wheel.


On top of this sat the semi-trailer that included a cab integrated into the trailer’s nose, reduced to a conical glass canopy projected out from the streamlined trailer body rather like the Concorde’s nose.


Truck of the Future?


The concept included the race car-like power module, the semi trailer and a third full trailer.


It was designed and built in cooperation with a team from the Technical University Munich (TUM) and was intended as a demonstration vehicle with a meeting room occupying the trailer behind the pointed single seat driving compartment. Entry and exit from the driving compartment was achieved by sliding the nose, windshield and forward windows forward for the driver to step up and into the driving seat.



Cummins Unveiled Its All-Electric Powertrain

Cummins Unveiled Its All-Electric Powertrain

In the US recently, Cummins unveiled its all-electric powertrain demonstration truck in its home city of Columbus, Indiana. The event took many by surprise, with Cummins is underscoring the move to electric traction – as the environmental alternative to diesel – as a power choice for vocations that can use it going into the next decade.


Cummins Unveiled Its All-Electric Powertrain


Based on what appeared to be an International Class 7 cab and chassis, heavily modified by Detroit engineering and performance house Rousch Engineering, the two-axle Aeos featured a production-intent Cummins electric power module, and a single, direct-drive motor and battery pack.


According to Julie Furber, Executive Director of Cummins’ Electrified Power Business, the truck is weight neutral with its diesel-powered equivalent, but offers greater performance and zero emissions. Range with its single 140kW-per-hour battery pack is 100 miles, which can be boosted to 300 miles with a second battery pack.


The lighter, denser battery design allows it to hold a longer charge for improved range and faster charging, reducing downtime. The concept truck design includes an ‘Engine Generator’ option for extended range capabilities, allowing users to benefit from Cummins’ B4.5 or B6.7 engines, providing a claimed major advantage over today’s hybrid systems. These engine options offer 50 per cent fuel savings compared to today’s diesel hybrids with zero emissions.


Tim Proctor, Executive Director Product Management and Market Innovation at Cummins, said in a separate interview during the launch that the electric motor offered a peak power of 470hp and a continuous rating of 300hp with 2,500 lb ft of torque at peak, and 1,365 lb ft continuously. With such peak torque, the truck accelerates more rapidly than a diesel equivalent vehicle, while offering better than 30mpg (7.84 l/100km) equivalent mileage.


He also commented that at today’s rates of charge the battery takes an hour to charge but Cummins is predicting that battery advances in the interim will mean this charge time will be down to 20 minutes by 2020.


Demonstration Truck


The unique exterior styling was to Cummins’ designs and executed by Rousch. The Aeos – named after one of the four flying horses in Greek mythology that pulled the god Helios’ chariot of the sun – is a demonstration project that will serve to further Cummins electric powertrain development. It will be in the main an engineering tool, but there are plans to put it into commercial service with a few carriers that are strong Cummins partners. Furber said that Cummins is not interested in becoming a truck manufacturer but is keen to work with partner original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in developing electric powertrains.


The unveiling in front of Cummins employees, local dignitaries and the truck press was the climax of a morning press conference at which Cummins executives pledged the company would support its customers with conventional diesel, alternative fuels and various electric powertrains according to customer needs and market demands.


On the electric powertrains, Srikanth Padmanabhan, President of Cummins’ Engine Business, said the company will pursue three electric architectures: pure electric using only batteries, electric powertrain with range extending power generation that could in future use fuel cell technology from supplier partners, and hybrid power systems with smaller diesels complemented by electric drive.